Dear Bakers and Friends,
Happy August everyone and welcome to the last summer issue of Betterbaking.com!
Unbelievably, this is my 264th issue of Betterbaking.com which is a landmark if not a specific anniversary. That’s twenty-years years of twelve monthly issues per year and sometimes a bonus newsletter here or there. But without my wonderful readers and fellow bakers, it would just be time spent instead of time well spent. This is my way of saying how appreciative I am of all of you. Some of us have been together from the beginning (i.e. when there was dial up). I got lucky when I met up with you all. Just saying.
So how are things in my neck of the words? It turns out that once I stopped resisting it, summer’s been great. Being a fall, spring and winter girl protesting summer is just this thing I do. In June, I get balky about the seasonal transition protesting the heat, the humidity, the seeming lack of routine although there’s always a lot to do. Then around now, I finally, to quote Stephen Sondheim, relax, let go and let fly. I start preserving jams and jellies like I’m packing up Noah’s ark, escaping to the beach, doing small trips of rural discovery, finding where another gourmet ice-cream place might have sprung up and thriving with yoga in the park which is so Zen, I float away after class. And then guess what happens? I realize it’s August which means Labour Day is around the corner. One balmy morning I wake up and notice a few falling maple leaves which seem to me rudely premature of Mother Nature. I see a few flocks of geese head south and realize the tender peaches-and-cream corn has been replaced by the Cortland apples. Suddenly ‘too much summer’ has become instant autumn. Meh! My only take-away is that next summer, I’m going to start loving summer earlier and get all I can out of it.
I’ve been up to variations on my personal themes of writing, baking and dance. Some of you have seen my recent culinary work in the Huffington Post and I also have a new feature in the Washington Post food section on Cobblers and Crisps coming up soon. I’m also launching my own book club at the beautiful, state-of-the-art library near my newish home. I love reading but I’m a sulky book club member. I just found many of the books in clubs I attended were engaging but heavy reads. I prefer books that raise me up (as well as making me think). All things being equal, like the quality of writing craftsmanship, I lean towards fiction that’s about the quirkiness of the human spirit or the evolutions and resilience of relationships. So I proposed my own book club and happily, a very special Montreal library agreed to let me just that so now I’m official. I’m starting with A Man Called Ove which is a treat, and then The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send them along. If you read any of my book club books, you’re welcome to share your thoughts by email.
In this issue of Betterbaking.com, I wanted to share something with you that I wonder if you can relate to. Recently I got all caught up again with my perfume addiction. Research turned to craving which turned to “I gotta order this or that’. Somehow I resisted and thought to check my scent cabinet and there I found tons of samples of just the perfumes I wanted as well as fresh bottles of lavender, bergamot and jasmine essential oil. It was all there! Ditto for my chai tea foray. I wanted to make fresh ground chai spices and got out my mortar and pestle. I had plenty of cinnamon sticks, fresh nutmeg, and ginger but no cardamom. Then I remembered my back-up spice cabinet and there it was: a packet of fresh cardamom seeds! Such bounty. Then, at the lake near me, the usual geese and ducks seem to have gone MIA and so I finally stopped looking for them and grumbling about their absence. Then one by one, two geese, four ducks dropped by every other day. Now there’s a veritable flock. Not as many as other years perhaps but enough.
All this, the perfumes, the cardamom, and the geese offered me a small epiphany. Everything I needed or wanted was all here, right where I was and there was more than enough. There was actually plenitude. I only had to look. Sometimes it pays to stay still and breathe long enough notice what’s right in front of us and remember to appreciate its value. Small things, big lessons.
As for the food part of this issue, the recipes this month are fruity, nutty and rosemary-kissed but each recipe, as always, was created and honed just for you.
So, happy baking and maybe try to do as I’m doing and embrace the present. August is still here. Rumour has it’s staying around for a good thirty more days but maybe we’ll get lucky and it will be an endless summer.
Warm wishes from my kitchen to yours,
Author, Master Baker
Recipe for August 2019
Enjoy the free recipe and other original recipes of the month! Happy baking from the BB Test Kitchen.
FREE !!! Hot and Sweet Peach Cobbler
I love this updated classic cobbler with a touch of spice and from habanero pepper and cinnamon. This is a wonderfully unexpected slice of heaven - sassy with heat and sweetness.
Compact little bites of all sorts of healthy things – nicely sweet, protein packed and soulfully good!
Vanilla Glazed Blueberry Muffins
Fresh blackberries and tart apples are all tucked into a vanilla-scented batter that takes both a streusel and then is drizzled with fondant. Semi-freeze the berries before tossing them into the batter so they hold up well. A summery and totally satisfying muffin – one of the best I ever created!
Onion, Sea Salt and Rosemary Bialys
Bialys are the bagel's first cousin. It's a disk of bagel dough with a slight depression in its center, topped with diced onions and poppy seeds and in this case, a dusting of fresh rosemary. Bialys are amazingly rustic, chewy and absolutely as good if not better, made at+ home than any bakery you can find. If you like bagels, you’ll adore love bialys.